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Dunn defends ‘kooky’ bills

Sandra Clark
Editor

State Rep. Bill Dunn says the so-called “kooky” bills introduced in virtually every legislative session grab media attention from more serious matters.

Seeking election to his 12th two-year term, Dunn works in a swirl of insanity called the Tennessee General Assembly. Earlier this month, the state attorney general reported that 22 women had claimed sexual harassment by Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham. Just last week, Rep. Martin Daniel accosted former Rep. Steve Hall in front of four witnesses at a local radio station.

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Telephone operators reunion is family affair

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

For decades, every night just before 10, taxicabs started lining up next to the telephone company on West Magnolia Avenue waiting for the operators to finish the second leg of the 10 o’clock split shift. Mostly young – and until the early ’70s, all of them female – they piled into the cabs by twos and threes and headed home, courtesy of Ma Bell.

“They wanted you fresh out of high school and unmarried,” said Ginger Kitts. “And you had to work those horrible hours. I worked the split to 10 the first five years and was glad to get it.”

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Questioning UT’s new commission

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

The UT settlement of the Title IX lawsuit for over $2.5 million has risen to $4 million plus the amount of money paid out in legal fees and settlement costs. While this resolves this specific lawsuit, it does not end UT’s problems or lawsuits on these issues over the long term. In fact, one can argue that UT, by settling every single gender and sexual assault lawsuit to date for high figures, has issued a silent notice to litigation-happy attorneys and clients that UT is ripe for the picking as it were. If you sue, they will settle in a generous way.

Many may feel now that all one has to do to win $400,000 or more is to sue UT over these issues in Nashville, survive a motion for summary judgment and dismissal and UT will quickly settle. UT’s first response was a strong denial of allegations followed by a pledge to fight in court. It appears the pledge to fight is only good until a settlement is achieved. This is not the end of these lawsuits as long as there are qualified plaintiffs out there willing to hire a litigious attorney.

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Key to improvement: Preston Williams

Marvin West
Sports

Last week I said, as if I knew what I am talking about, that if Tennessee is going to win big football games, take the SEC East title and maybe stick its nose into the national playoff, it must:

a. Improve the downfield passing game.
b. Find a left offensive tackle to protect the quarterback’s backside.
c. Refine receiver techniques and get the right guys on the field.

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Pat Summitt chewed me out (and I lived to talk about it)

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Like hundreds – maybe thousands – of East Tennesseans, I knew Pat Summitt. I was not in her inner circle and we didn’t hang out, but I wrote feature stories about her and her teams for more than a decade, for a couple of different publications including this one, and I liked her the from the first time we spoke. Didn’t everybody?

That’s why I’ll never forget the time she took me to the woodshed.

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Planning for the future of East Knox County

Sandra Clark
Editor

Residents of East Knox County gathered Sunday at the Carter Senior Center to share ideas about the future of their community. It was a convivial group, the mood lightened by giant scoops of Cruze Farm ice cream (peach and vanilla).

Their ideas will be posted online at knoxmpc.org/plans/small-area/eastcounty, where others may also comment. Organizers will return in October with a plan.

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Steve Hall gets Haslam money bomb

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Despite never being a favorite of the Republican establishment, Steve Hall served two terms on City Council and two terms in the state House and was putting up other people’s signs for years before he ever ran for office. Closely associated with former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, Hall has always been an outsider, perhaps best illustrated by his 2006 run against incumbent Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. He didn’t win, but he gave Ragsdale a brisk and unexpected challenge.

The Campfield relationship plus some missteps during Hall’s second House term – like landing on the wrong side of a controversy over changing Middlebrook Pike’s scenic highway designation at the behest of a new Tennova hospital facility and seeming to entertain conversation about selling Lakeshore Park – were a gift to his challenger, Martin Daniel, who ended up taking the seat in 2014.

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